The Media’s ‘Rich Prick’ Smear Strategy

Israel Folau is not going down quietly or friendless and alone. Despite being deplatformed and refused access to a second fundraising platform he has already raised over 1.8 million Australian dollars as of 4pm yesterday.

Ordinary people see his stance as a principled battle for free speech and freedom of religion. In reaction to the media pile-on, the public are doubling down on their support of Folau despite the media smearing him as a homophobe.

It has been interesting to see how the media stories about Folau changed once they realised that Joe Public did not see Folau as the bad guy that they had painted him to be.

In the beginning, the media deliberately mischaracterised Folau’s tweet and his sermon at his local church as homophobic. This lie was repeated ad nauseam. Thanks to new media the truth was revealed.

On the Australian Christian Lobby YouTube channel, his sermon was analysed at great length, showing that the media had lied. On social media, people pushed back against the ‘homophobic’ narrative and pointed out that it was a free speech and religious freedom issue.

The smear campaign is ON | Israel Folau – S2E7 The Truth of It

The media stories then changed and when mentioning the tweet and sermon many gave a more balanced view (no doubt because they had by then been so thoroughly discredited). Media also changed their narrative to pursue a ‘Rich Prick’ smear. Since they hadn’t succeeded in turning people off Folau with their discredited claim of homophobia, they instead attempted to kill his support by portraying him as rich, greedy and unprincipled with donated funds.

Many news articles this week have been at great pains to point out what assets Folau has and how much money he is worth. They have criticised him for not selling his assets in order to fund a lawsuit that may well cost in excess of three million dollars. Their underlying message is that regardless of the righteousness of his claim and regardless of how badly he has been treated by Rugby Australia, he should not ask for help from the public even though Rugby Australia has deep pockets.

The other ‘Rich Prick’ strategy that Media are now using to try to turn public opinion against Folau is their creation of a made up scenario that if it actually happened might conceivably paint Folau in a bad light. I call it the What If Tax Scenario.

Meanwhile, Folau may be able to claim some of the legal expenses used to fight his wrongful dismissal action as a tax deduction, while keeping the donations.

Tax and Super Australia tax counsel John Jeffreys said legal expenses were not generally tax deductible in unfair dismissal cases because the person was no longer earning income and therefore the costs were treated as being of a capital nature.
“However, there are situations in which legal expenses can be tax deductible,” Jeffreys said.

“If you get an amount that’s in compensation for lost wages then that itself is income and therefore it makes the expenses tax deductible.”
Folau is suing for A$5 million in lost salary in addition to the loss of commercial opportunities such as future contracts and sponsorship deals, as well as the cost of missing out on the Rugby World Cup and the chance to become the greatest Wallaby try-scorer.

Jeffreys said in such cases compensation would usually be awarded in a lump sum and the tax office would then treat the cost of his legal action as a capital expense, which would not be tax-deductible.
But if he was claiming that he had been wronged in the termination of his employment, any compensation he received would not be subject to capital gains tax.

Sydney Morning Herald